Jan 31, 2013

Be True to Ourselves

"I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy: myself" part of Native American 1700 prayer

Modern psychologists advise a similar thing; that our work in life is to deal with our own shortcomings, rather than to judge others regarding what we think are their shortcomings.  Recently, I felt constrained by the changes a friend made in our plans.  Drive on this day; not that day.  Leave at this time; and better yet, meet her at her house.  Collaboration is something I value, but I do not like feeling as if I am being painted into a corner -- which was probably not her intention.  She was probably trying to plan something to best fit her preferences.  Recently, I read a response from Dr. Phil where he told someone if they resented what someone did, they must have had expectations of how they thought that person should behave.  That is probably accurate.  All we ever have control over is our own attitudes, thoughts and actions.  It is important to me that situations be win/win.  It helped me to realize my discomfort was that what I had proposed -- and what she had agreed to - was, subsequently, completely changed.  So much so that it was no longer workable for me.  In the end, her agenda and mine turned out not to be compatible.  It wasn't so much that I needed to fight an enemy within myself; it was that I needed to be true to myself.  What I had originally proposed was workable for me; this greatly modified plan was not. Collaboration is fine, but not at the expense of our own needs and wants. 

Jan 30, 2013

Standing Firm

"All through life, be sure to put your feet in the right place, and then stand firm." Abraham Lincoln

I am reading a book I bought Dwane for Christmas.  He liked it so much that he suggested I would like it too -- it is wonderful that he can still read and enjoy his history books.  Rise to Greatness by David Von Drehle, is a story of one year in Lincoln's presidency:  1862.  The book depicts Lincoln rising to the challenges America faced in that period.  America was caught in divisiveness over the rebellion of the South and the issue of slavery.  The book captures the ability Lincoln had to educate himself, not hold grudges, and use considerable wisdom in forming political footholds. 

As caregivers, we, too, probably deal with divisiveness.  Perhaps from family members, likely from the care receiver:  People who question the decisions and actions we, as caregivers, implement.  Lincoln's advice seems relevant to us who are caregivers.  It is prudent to make our decisions with care, with concern for all involved, and then to stand firm in those decisions.  One way to stand firm is to seek counsel from professionals and caring persons who can help us make the best decisions in the first place.  Then, it is easier to stand firm:  knowing we made the best decision possible given the circumstances and our options. 

Jan 29, 2013

Brain Pacemakers for Alzheimer's

"Doctors at Ohio State University explain the hope:  that constant electrical stimulation of brain circuits involved in memory and thinking might keep those neural networks active for longer, essentially bypassing some of the dementia's damage." Associated Press

This does not sound like something for the faint of heart, nor for someone beyond early-onset dementia.  Holes are drilled in the skull, and tiny wires implanted into the brain where they give off electrical stimulation.  This research does herald a new horizon, though, where researchers are looking for something besides medication.  More than 5 million Americans have some type of dementia, and that number is expected to rise dramatically as baby boomers age.  Electrical stimulation will not attack the source of dementia, just as medications do not, but it may help the brain to work better.  The premise is that a healthy brain is a connected brain.  Dementia destroys the connectivity of the brain by depositing gunky plaque.  The electrical stimulation helps the brain reactivate those silenced circuits.  So far, the results look optimistic. 

Jan 28, 2013

Optimism is Best Medicine

"Life and disease coexist, each moving in tandem.  Optimism is the best medicine.  Eat simply, live simply, but above all, be optimistic." Dr. Ho Shixiu

A lovely article in the February Prevention Magazine about a Chinese herbalist, Dr. Ho, who mixes his own teas for remedies.  According to the article, people travel thousands of miles to meet with this 90-year old man at the base of the Himalayas in the Yunnan Province.  Most of us probably will not be able to travel to China to meet with Dr. Ho, but we can practice what he says is the best medicine of all:  optimism.  One way to know how optimistic we are is to notice our thoughts around any given situation:  are we more likely to expect the best outcome?  or do we fear the worst outcome?  You may be like me in that I vacillate.  Usually I am able to expect the best outcome, but there are times when I am inexplicably anxious about a situation --- which it seems must mean I am expecting a poor outcome or process.   It can be a practice for us all to look for the evidence that our lives are unfolding as they should be, and that we can expect that to continue.  For today, what is one sign that your life is good?  For me, we are having a mild and beautiful winter day, people I love are doing well, the care receiver is in a safe place, and I serendipitously found a way to save on insurance.  A good day, with more to follow.

Jan 27, 2013

Exercise With a Friend

"Research found that exercising with a partner enhances a workout's stress-reducing effects -- a boon for the body and mind." Stanford University

I often exercise alone, but I also enjoy being in a group or with a friend.  The research above says there does not even have to be talking when exercising with a friend, because that did not change the results.  It seems, perhaps, that one's needs are met on more levels than just the physical activity.  Another benefit we might find is that we are more committed to going to exercise if we have agreed to meet someone.  That works for me with early-morning aerobics --- if I am picking up a friend, I am not tempted to stay in bed.  Exercise, alone or with others, is beneficial to our bodies and minds; and now there is evidence to say that exercise is even more beneficial when done with a friend.  So, who can you exercise with today? 

Jan 26, 2013

Listening with Compassion

"If you want to be truly understood, you need to say everything three times, in three different ways. Once for each ear . . . . and once for the heart." Paula Underwood Spencer

An interesting thought.  I would add that we also each need a listener who can listen with nonjudgment.  The idea of needing to say everything three times might help in understanding why people have to revisit an incident of trauma more than once in order to be healed.  Maybe they need to talk about it at least three times.  I am a processor, and I find that I do need to process something more than once in order to sort it out for myself, AND I need to have a listener who can accept what I am saying without judgment.  It seems that this is perhaps a human need: the need to say something out loud, and to be heard by someone who can accept and support what we have to say.  As caregivers, we undoubtedly serve as that kind of listener for the person for whom we provide care.  As caregivers, we also need that kind of a person to listen to us.  I hope you have at least one person in your life who will listen to you with both ears and their heart.  You deserve it. 

Jan 25, 2013

Thoughts and Their Effect

"The powerful Law of Attraction is at the root of everything that you experience; and the stable, never-changing, always-accurate premise of this Law is: that which is like unto itself, is drawn.
When you give thought to something, you begin the attraction process of the essence of that subject into your own life experience." Abraham

There are numerous teachers who warn us about watching the content of our thoughts.  Louise Hay suggests that our thoughts are what cause our physical wellness or illness.  In that thinking, rigid thoughts cause rigidness in the body; whereas, fluid thoughts create fluidness and well-being.  You may or may not believe this, but what is the harm in implementing watching your thoughts and your conversations?  For me, conversations include books I read, television programs and movies I watch.  I do not watch or read (except some in the news) anything morbid or violent.  It is important that we consider that our bodies and experiences may very well reflect the content of our thoughts and emotions.  Angry people seem to draw more experiences about which to be angry.  Recently, I was in a situation where a service person was explaining to people why something could not be done.  It was interesting to watch the reactions -- ranging from blow ups to acceptance.  When it was my turn to talk with the service person, she said to me, "I am not as bad as the thoughts you have been having about me."  I could honestly respond to her, "Actually, I have not been having bad thoughts about you."  The relief in her face and body posture was evident when she found she had not been judged harshly, and she seemed to treat people with more graciousness thereafter.  Sure, I could have been angry; some were -- but this was a situation over which neither the service person nor I had much control, and anger seemed inappropriate.  This is not about bragging about my response:  It is about demonstrating that in each and every circumstance we have control over our thoughts and emotions and actions.  If our thoughts are more peaceful, our experiences and our bodies will be more peaceful, and there will be more peace around us.

Jan 24, 2013

Love of Self and Others

"Appreciation and self-love are the most important tools that you could ever nurture."  Abraham

Appreciation and self love are the most important qualities one can develop, and it follows naturally that then one can also love others.  It is only through self regard that we can have regard for others.  We can look at any bully and see self loathing extending outward in the treatment of others.  People who develop healthy self regard also have healthy regard for others.  It is a law, like gravity.  Self appreciation precedes appreciation of others.  So, how can we develop self appreciation?  One way is to never, and I do mean never, speak or think demeaningly about ourselves.  This does not mean grandiosity; it just means seeing ourselves as humans who make mistakes but who are doing the best we can.  Another way we can appreciate ourselves is to not allow others to violate our boundaries.  We need to resist being bullied into doing something we do not want to do.  We benefit from taking time to consider our own values, to explore what we want, and to honor those values and desires.  The entire world will benefit when we each appreciate ourselves.  Then, it follows, we appreciate all life. 

Jan 23, 2013


"One key of knowing joy is being easily pleased.  There is profound innocence in the fact that sages and children alike are easily pleased with what each day gifts them."  Mark Nepo

I had a recent adventure.  Somehow my furnace got kicked off in the midst of a very cold period, and pipes froze.  A dear friend said she liked how "calm" I was about it.  To be honest, I did not find joy in the experience, but I was very calm; I got the furnace going, called friend to recommend a plumber when I could not get one to answer my phone calls, stayed overnight with another friend as the house was too cold to sleep in, and spent the next day cleaning up the resultant mess.  Life is too short to be hysterical about mishaps.  Whenever I fly somewhere and there is a change or delay, it is instructive for me to watch how people respond.  It ranges from knee-jerk reactions to blow-ups to complacency.  It seems an optimal response to mishaps is somewhere in between those reactions, and that is:  assess the situation, correct what you can, and accept what you cannot correct or change.  I could not change the fact that my furnace had stopped working, but I could contain further damage by taking appropriate action.   It would be a stretch to say I found joy in any of this, but I did find gratitude.  It could have been so much worse:  my furnace could have permanently stopped, and I could have had more damage.  I am grateful that there was so little damage, that there was a competent plumber who came promptly the next day, and that I had friends to support me and shelter me.  Gifts among the mishap.     

Jan 22, 2013

Remembering Who We Are

"What can I do to always remember who I really am?" Juan Ramon Jiminez

There are those who think our whole human adventure is about remembering who we are - really who we are.  If we devote ourselves to a role, it can be hard to remember who we really are.  That has been true of me in parenting.  It can also be true of oneself in being a spouse or in being a caregiver.  Who are you besides caregiver?  It can be helpful to consider this question.  If all of our roles were stripped away, who would we be?  Considering the question can be scary.  Mark Nepo suggests that maybe what Adam and Eve lost when they were kicked out of Eden was their ability to remember what is sacred.  What is sacred about your life?  About you?  Even for those who are not religious, it is not a waste of time to consider why we are here.  Personally and specifically.  Why are you here at this place and in this time?  What difference would it make to the world if you were not here?  Considering these questions is one way to remember who we are:  sons and daughters of the Divine with a unique purpose for being here.  Now:  what is your unique purpose? 

Jan 21, 2013

Do Unto Others

"The gift is most of the giver and comes back most to him." Walt Whitman

All religions seem to have this tenet:  do unto others -- or karmic law:  the idea that any action brings the result back to the self.  Behavioral psychologists might think of it as the consequences of  one's actions or behavior.  We do have consequences, although they are not so immediate that we can always see the connection.  People who thrive on lots of drama in their lives, generally create more drama.  People who are serene and calm, generally create more serenity.  People who are kind to others generally have kindness returned.  Of course, there are exceptions, and today honors one of those:  Martin Luther King day.  King preached nonviolence; only to die as a result of the violence of another.  So, the way we treat others is not a guarantee that we will be well treated.  In fact, if we are willing to so stand up and stand out -- as Martin Luther King was -- against something - even if that something is wrong - we may very well be putting ourselves into the path of someone who so fears a change that they will act violently toward us.  Is there anything about which you feel so strongly and so stand up for, that you attract violent reactions? 

Jan 20, 2013

Being Kind

"There are many reasons to be kind, but perhaps none is as compelling as the spiritual fact that it is what we do.  It is what quietly feeds the world." Mark Nepo

Mark Nepo expands on the above quote with a story of a holy man who prayed daily in the Ganges River.  For several days he would see a poisonous spider struggling in the water, and he would cup his hands and lift the spider to shore --- where it would sting him.  His prayers for the world diluted the poison, so he was not harmed.  After several days, the spider upon being carried to the shore asked the holy man why he kept saving him, as he had to know the spider would always sting him, as that is what spiders do.  The holy man answered, "because that is what I do."

We, too, can be stung by being kind.  People will misunderstand and rebuke us.  But, that is not the reason we are kind.  We are kind because that is what mature people do.  Is there one small act of kindness you can do today -- preferably one for which you do not get recognition?

Jan 19, 2013

Endurance Exercise

"20 minutes every day of exercise which causes the person to sweat lightly is the single best answer to good health." Public Television

Current recommendations for exercise are an hour a day, with 20 minutes being endurance as described above.  The hour of exercise does not have to be all at one time, but can be split up throughout the day.  Exercise is the single best thing we can do to improve our overall health.  With more and more of us sitting at desks and computers for most of the day, it might be that we have to schedule our exercise.  I go to water aerobics several times and week and some yoga classes.  Otherwise, I get in extra body movement by doing my own house cleaning, using stairs instead of elevators, parking farther away from an entrance so that I walk further, and doing my own shoveling for snow removal.   Some of these activities are more fun than others, but I enjoy each of them.  Even the house cleaning and shoveling:  they bring me a sense of satisfaction about a job well done AND knowing that I am investing in my own health by the physical activity.  What exercise can you implement into your life?

Jan 18, 2013

Authenticity and Conflict

"Living through enough, we all come to this understanding, though it is difficult to accept:  No matter what path we choose to honor, there will always be conflict to negotiate."  Mark Nepo

Mark Nepo goes on to say that the conflict will either be internal -- by our not being true to ourselves and by being invisible; or external -- by being true to ourselves which creates conflict in relationships with people who want us to be something besides what we are.  It seems to me that Nepo is correct.  If we are not true to ourselves, we will have internal conflict.  If we are true to ourselves, others will object.  This is happening currently with Dwane, who is back on the theme of believing he can live at home.  In no way does this take into account the toll on me, nor does it take into account reality.  He simply refuses (or is unable) to see that he does nothing independently -- except toileting.  He needs help with dressing, he needs someone to organize his pills, he needs someone to drive him to appointments, and he needs someone to fix meals, take care of finances, etc.  It is very stressful for me that he argues and cannot abide by what all medical people have said:  he needs assistance in his daily living activities. It is also hurtful that he so little acknowledges all the caregiving I have given him for the past five years and longer.  Perhaps it would help my stress to realize that this is an opportunity for me to be true to what is best for him and for me, or to do what he would like me to do -- which ultimately serves neither of us. 

Jan 17, 2013

Website Resources

"When you are caring for someone with Alzheimer's, you have questions.  Go to Alzheimers.gov, the reliable resource of information about Alzheimer's and related dementias."  www.alzheimers.gov or 1-800-272-3900

It is always good to have a resource that we know is reliable, and this website appears to be.  Along with the website for Lewy Bodies Dementia, www.lbda.org and Mayo Clinic and John Hopkins, this government website provides helpful and accurate information.  Here is a quote from their home page:

Answers Start Here

Welcome to alzheimers.gov, the government's free information resource about Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Here you can find links to authoritative, up-to-date information from agencies and organizations with expertise in these areas.

The links include treatments, how to care for, how to pay and plan for, and other related topics.  It is worth checking out.

Another website that could provide good information is www.healthcare.gov - if you live in the U.S.  This website gives a list of recommended procedures covered under the Affordable Care Act, so that a person might be able to get preventive screenings for free.  A large number of tests, including mammograms and blood pressure tests, might be given at no cost to you.

Jan 16, 2013

Fraudulent Charges

"For-profit nursing homes are more likely to overbill taxpayers for treatments patients do not need or never receive " U. S. federal health inspector's November report

Fraudulent charges are something we, as caregivers, are smart to watch for -- whether it is for a medical visit or some other service.  Recently, I noticed that Medicare was being billed for 45 minutes of PT (physical therapy) each time Dwane went, but I noticed that the therapist stopped at 30 minutes.  Since noticing the discrepancy, I have made a point in stating beforehand:  "This is for 45 minutes, right?' -- and the therapist has worked with Dwane the full 45 minutes. The above-mentioned study found that 30% of claims submitted by for-profit nursing homes were improper, compared with 12% for nonprofit.  In the U.S. investors own 3/4 of the $105 billion nursing-home market and typically earn a 20% profit margin on Medicare, compared with a 9% profit for nonprofit nursing homes.  It costs all of us if we allow fraudulent charges.  It is a good idea for us to check to make sure our care receivers are being charged for only what is appropriate.

Jan 15, 2013

Time in Nature

"A few minutes in nature can renew mind and body, reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and make sick people healthy faster." Virginia Sole-Smith

If at all possible, I spend time in nature every day.  I have often wondered how I would thrive in a metropolis, with the cacophony of noise and cement/steel/asphalt.  I am supported by silence and nature.  I have just now gotten back from a 3-mile walk.  I saw wild turkey, birds in trees, and expanses of snow.  Most of us spend most of our time inside -- often with artificial light.  Even a few minutes outside every day can improve our well being.  We can benefit our Vitamin D levels, while enjoying fresh and clean air.  One way to get outside is to simply walk.  It helps to think of exercise as a gift and not an obligation.  We are not punishing ourselves when we exercise:  We are investing in our own well being.  Is today a day you can be outside for some body movement?

Jan 14, 2013

Keeping Our Cognitive Sharpness

"Think of the brain not as a muscle, but as a series of muscles you want to exercise.  The goal is to try new things that engage different parts of the brain and form new neural connections." Dr. Sanjay Gupta, neurosurgeon

Doing crossword puzzles is not as beneficial as once thought.  What we need to do are various activities that work a variety of parts of our brain.  Some things that do form new neural connections are learning a new skill; such as a new language or reading books you have never read before.  But, the most effective way to avoid dementia is physical exercise.  Physical activity - It is important to include cardio which gets the blood pumping and resistance which builds muscle.  Both are important.  It is also important to control our blood pressure, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and maintain strong social networks. It is too late to prevent dementia in the one for whom we provide caregiving, but it is not too late to prevent it in us.  

Jan 13, 2013

6 Things That Cause Happiness

"Positivity researchers are now turning up unexpected happiness triggers that can turn your frown upside down.  Here are six we love." Prevention Magazine, January 2013

1.  Sad Movies:  Sad movies make us cry, but when they are done, we feel better about our own lives.
2.  Getting Older:  As we get older, the research indicates that we react less to negative things we see and hear..
3.  Faking a smile:  In a study at the University of Kansas, people who forced a broad smile retained lower heart rates when exposed to stress.  So, the Alanon adage:  "Fake it until you make it" applies to smiles too.
4.  Thursdays:  London School of Economics researchers found that the 4th day of the week provides a happiness bounce.
5.  Do less for your kids:  Moms who sacrificed their own needs to provide activities for their children, tend to be more depressed than mothers who think "good enough" parenting is good enough.
(Note to Caregivers:  It would certainly seem that this might also be true for those caregivers who put off their own happiness to provide everything for the care receiver.)
6.  Read newspapers:  Reading a newspaper for news rather than watching TV emerged as the greatest difference in happiness, according to a University of Maryland study.

Jan 12, 2013

Obligation To Do What Is Right

"The only obligation which I have a right to assume, is to do at any time what I think is right." Henry Thoreau

Thoreau wrote this in his discourse on Civil Disobedience.  According to Maslowe's Hierarchy, this thinking would put Thoreau at the highest level of moral development:  doing what one determines is right.  It is how I try to lead my life, and it has sometimes put me into conflict with others.  Moving Dwane into assisted living is one example.  There are those people who criticized me (of note:  these were also the people who were willing in no way to help provide personal assistance); but I knew it was the right thing:  for Dwane's safety and for my own health.  In trying to keep him in our regular world, which he wanted, he fell three times and also sustained a head injury.  My own health was being damaged by the stress of his unwillingness to accept support from paid staff instead of me.  It seems that it is important to consider what Thoreau says, "The only obligation I have is to do what I think is right."  What is right for you?  Not what do others want you to do, but what is really right for you to do?

Jan 11, 2013

Benefits of Exercise

"People with a high activity level, about what you'd get from walking briskly for an hour daily, lived 4.5 years longer than their more sedentary peers.  People who walked 75 minutes a week -- just over 10 minutes a daiy -- lived almost 2 years long than nonexercisers." National Cancer Institute

/Another good reason to exercise, and one does not need to spend hours doing it.  Just slightly over 10 minutes a day brings benefits.  That is good news, as some days are too busy to get in an hour; but most of us can manage to walk for 10 minutes.  According to Steven Moore, PhD, "If you want to live longer, any physical activity is good.  But more is better."  On days when we cannot fit in more time for exercise, let's at least mange 10 minutes of walking.  It is not just the living longer, which we may or may not want, but it is being healthier while we are alive that is impetus for exercise.  Today I took a very brisk walk.  It was cold and windy, but it felt good to breathe in deeply the clean, crisp air.  I prefer to walk outdoors, but treadmills are a good thing for those who prefer -- or need -- to be indoors.  If the weather is inclement, I have even walked inside the house and up and down stairs,.  Exercise does not need to be expensive or difficult to schedule; it can be as simple as having a good pair of walking shoes and the desire to move our bodies.

Jan 10, 2013

Balance in Life

"Have you developed a method of keeping your inlet and your outlet in good working order so that the cup which you give is never empty?"  Howard Thurman

A good questions for a lot of us, especially those who are caregivers   It is challenging to take good enough care of ourselves that we have enough to give away.  The many tasks of caregiving can be so demanding that it leaves little time for self nourishing.  But, self nourishing is crucial.  What are some ways you nourish yourself?  I nourish myself with supportive conversations, nutritious food, exercise, clean air, plenty of water, enough sleep, and time for reflection and meditation.  By doing these things, I am also able to give Dwane support.  It can seem as if there are not enough hours in a day to meet one's own needs, but as caregivers we really must find the time for self health.  We have nothing to give if we do not take care of ourselves.  Like the advice given on airplanes about putting on your own oxygen mask before assisting others; we must do self care before we try to care for others.

Jan 9, 2013

The Company We Keep

"My best tip:  (for how to make 2013 best year ever) Spend more time in the company of people who make you feel optimistic." Andrew Weil, MD

Good advice.  On a recent night when I could not sleep, I realized it was the result of  my reaction to being with someone who did not provide supportive conversation.  Granted:  I realize that my reaction is MY problem, but a solution for my reaction is what Dr. Weil recommends:  spending time in the company of people who make me feel optimistic.  That precludes spending time with naysayers  pessimists, worriers, criticizers, complainers.  It means spending more time with people who want the best for themselves and every one else.  Haven't you noticed  how much better you feel when you are with people who are kind, happy, respectful and want the best for all involved?  It feels good.  So in 2013 let us intend to be optimistic ourselves and to spend time with others who are optimistic.  We deserve it.

Jan 8, 2013

Being Present

"Bring in your scattered parts, be present at all levels of your consciousness." Howard Thurman

Again the advice to be present and to be conscious, but what are our scattered parts?  Thurman may have been referring to something Carl Jung taught:  that we need to recognize all the part of our personality in order to be fully whole.  Part of the human journey, for some people, is to recognize our "shadow" parts -- those parts that we find socially unacceptable.  It seems in that journey it is important for us to recognize that we are capable, given the right circumstances, to behave in any way any human has ever behaved.  We may think we are above selling our bodies for money, but what if that were the only way to feed our child?  We may think we are above killing another human, but how many times do we wound another person through our words, said or unsaid?  Today, let us be willing to bring in our scattered and neglected parts, so that we may live in higher consciousness.

Jan 7, 2013


"The coming to consciousness is not a discovery of some new thing; it is a long and painful return to that which has always been." Helen Luke

The above quote seems to perhaps explain why there are painful events in life.  Humans have long tried to discern why bad things happen; there are books written attempting to answer the question.  Are the painful events ones that help us return to consciousness, and what exactly is consciousness?  There are opinions abounding, but is it possible that consciousness is the same as developing into our full potential?  Becoming mature humans?  It does seem to involve mastering the ego; finding out that it is "not all about me".  It seems to involve getting a world view; seeing the perspective of the rest of humanity.  Perhaps caregiving is one way to further our journey toward consciousness.  Together, perhaps, we can intend it to be so.

Jan 6, 2013


"Women in particular experience a spike in stress hormones when faced with household clutter." UCLA study

As caregivers it is hard to find time for everything, to include decluttering.  Today I spent the morning paying bills and setting up automatic payments on our prescriptions plans. Then, I cleaned and dusted, took out the trash, and prepared nutritious meals for myself.  We each lead busy lives.  Tomorrow I take Dwane to PT and out to lunch, and recently spent a day helping him write thank you notes to people.  As caregivers we are busy, busy people.  Too busy sometimes to address the clutter in our houses.  But, it is important to remember that the clutter does cause us stress.  Perhaps we can hire someone else to do some of the tasks, so that we can address the clutter.  How do you handle clutter?  I have a habit -- taught to me many years ago by a friend -- to always tidy the house before going to bed, so that I get up to cleanliness and order.  A gift to oneself. 

Jan 5, 2013


"If you can't get quiet enough to hear yourself, your life is too loud." ~Terri Guillemets

Last Sunday the pastor quoted a mystic as saying that she wanted to speak only if her words improved upon God's silence.  What an intriguing thought.  I reviewed some of my recent words and found them lacking -- in improving on God's silence.  What if we each decided to speak only if our speaking improved the situation?  It would be an amazingly different world.  Much less said.  Much less hurtfulness.  It has been my practice for a long time to speak only if I discern that what I have to say is in the best interest of the other person to hear.  As a human, I fail in that commitment; but -- by staying away from gossip, criticism, and judgment, my task is made easier.  Let us consider today speaking only if our words can improve upon the silence.  Otherwise, let the silence prevail.  Peace to you.

Listening to an NPR program (I missed the researcher's name), a researcher said he had put to musical notes the sounds of the droning of machines that surround us in today's world.  Some of the sounds were enhancing to the human spirit; others were damaging.  It was the researcher's microwave drone that was the most damaging sound.  He said we are the first generation of humans to be surrounded always by sound, other than those sounds of nature -- and he thought the effects were damaging.  People thought Dwane and I were foolish to move out into the woods -- and it is more work in some ways -- but I love the sounds of silence that surround me.  Is there any place where you have silence?

Jan 4, 2013

66 Days

"66 days. That's the average time it took people to form a new habit according to a recent study at University College London." Health Magazine Jan/Feb 2013

I have also read in psychological journals that it takes 30 days for a new behavior to become habit.  In reviewing New Year's resolutions, ABC television said that most people fail in their resolutions before the end of the month of January.  So, it would appear that persistence is needed to make a new behavior a habit.  And, why would we even want to make it a habit?  Habits by their very nature take less energy for us.  We can do them without really thinking about them.  The behavior has become a part of our routine.  Did you make a resolution for the New Year?  Most people make resolutions to either exercise more or to lose weight.  It might be a good idea to make the new behavior you are attempting to turn into a habit - fun and simple.  Most of us give up on a new behavior because we have made the goal too big.  So, instead of planning to exercise 2 hours every day, when you perhaps have not exercised at all; plan instead to exercise 30 minutes at least 3 times a week.  A more attainable goal.  Whatever your goals, it is important to invest in your own well being. 

Jan 3, 2013

What One Person Can Do

If success or failure of this planet and of human beings depended on how I am and
what I do… HOW WOULD I BE? WHAT WOULD I DO? —R. Buckminster Fuller

It seems that we humans vacillate between self grandiosity and self deprecation.  Neither is a good place for our souls to reside.  We are humans:  nothing less and nothing more.  According to Buddhist tradition, to be born as a human is the greatest gift we could be given.  In that belief system, we might very well have been born an ant, or an oak tree, or a shark.  That belief system suggests that we appreciate that no other life form can reach the level of consciousness that we, as humans, can.  So, as a human, let us consider it is possible that we can contribute to either the success or the failure of this planet -- because we actually can.  Just look at all the examples of One Act of Kindness or Kindness Paid Forward that were in the news during the holiday season.  Did those acts of kindness make a difference in the quality of life on this planet?   You bet they did.  Your acts of kindness can too.  Today let us each do one act of kindness for which we do not get recognition.  Perhaps you can pay for the meal for someone at a restaurant, or a tank full of gas for someone at another pump, or leave a trash collector $20, or call your street department to compliment the person who plows.  The list is endless, as acts of kindness are limited only by our imaginations.

Doesn't that feel good to have done an act of kindness anonymously?  Not only does it make you feel better; it improves the quality of life on our planet. 

Jan 2, 2013

Live Your Life

May you live all the days of your life.
--Jonathan Swift

It seems it is part of the human condition to be preoccupied.  Sometimes it is the distractions of the external world, but for me it is more often the distractions of my own thoughts.  I most notice it when I am driving and realize that I have not been aware of any of my surroundings for the past several miles.  Joan Borysenko says that a big part of our spiritual journey is to train the "monkey mind": the mind that jumps from topic to topic without ever fully attending to any.  To really live all the days of our lives requires that we are mindful of what we are doing, of what is happening in our surroundings.  It takes discipline to not 'numb out' by thoughts of worry or anger, or watching television, or participating in social networks on the Internet --- and these are some of the more innocuous ways we as humans tune out.  There are also addictions:  drugs, alcohol, sex, food - to name a few.  One thing is certain:  This is the only life that we are certain of having.  It is important that we live it.  Today, let us notice several times an hour if we are fully present to the current experience of our lives.  Your life is precious, and you deserve to fully enjoy it. 

Jan 1, 2013


One needs something to believe in, something for which one can have wholehearted enthusiasm.
--Hannah Senesh
Happy New Year.  Perhaps you, like me, are not sorry to see that 2012 has ended.  A year of too many challenges.  Having Dwane move into assisted living was one of the most difficult things of my life.  Then, to have a loved one with a medical crisis.  I am looking forward to a year of more peace and harmony and health. 

I am not one for making New Year's resolutions, but I do find at year's end that I spend some time reflecting on the past year, my reactions, and what I want to change going forth into the New Year.  It is good to have the demarcation of a year ending and one beginning to take inventory.  In 2013 I want to take things less personally.  I want to be free of judgment, limiting beliefs, fear, doubt, and worry; and I want to allow others to be free as well.  I plan on continuing to support my own health in what I eat, in regular body movement, in what thoughts I entertain, and by going to Mayo Clinic for a good health exam.  I plan on relaxing and enjoying the relationships that are in my life. 

What do you plan for your enjoyment in 2013?